Merchandise Mart Denies it is for Sale

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Chicago, IL – Officials at Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. (MMPI) said that while its parent company will always listen to an interesting offer, that policy does not necessarily mean MMPI is being actively shopped around.

The company issued a statement to that effect September 6 in response to a media article that stated Vornado Realty Trust had made it known in financial circles that the company was on the block.

“Allusions and rumors regarding MMPI being offered for sale are erroneous,” the statement said, adding that no brokers or counsel had been retained and no other steps had been taken to place such a property on the market.

The report that Vornado was actively looking for a buyer came out September 4 in Crain’s Chicago BusinessCrain’s said Vornado’s leadership had decided MMPI’s earning power was suffering from the recession and its exhibition business did not fit well with Vornado’s core commercial real estate business.

Crain’s said it had been told by sources that an offer of $1.25 billion had been made recently, but the deal had fallen through.

MMPI said, however, that it had been consistently turning a profit in recent years and had a 92% occupancy rate companywide as of June 30. “In the 12 months ended June 30, we leased more than 2 million square feet, a 39% increase from the average over the past three years,” the statement said.

“Even in one of the most uncertain economic climates of our time, MMPI is strong,” the statement said.

MMPI manages a number of facilities across the U.S., including The Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago, the L.A. Mart in Los Angeles and the National Furniture Mart in High Point, NC. The National Furniture Mart is the venue for the two annual High Point Market furniture trade shows, which placed Nos. 20 and 21 on the current Trade Show Executive Gold 100 list of the largest U.S. trade shows.

On September 1, MMPI announced it had received 32 letters of intent for permanent tenancy of its Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center. The company also said it had 16 such letters in hand for trade shows, conferences and conventions at the facility, which is projected to open in 2013.

Reach MMPI President Christopher Kennedy at (800) 677-6278 or ckennedy@mmart.com